Africa whistleblowers' initiative launches in Senegal
Lawyers and human rights campaigners launched an initiative for African whistleblowers in Senegal on Tuesday, aimed at providing a secure means of exposing wrongdoing on the continent.
African nations such as Somalia, South Sudan, Libya and Guinea-Bissau regularly appear at the very bottom of rankings such as Transparency International's Corruption Index, while none make it into the top 30.
The Platform for the Protection of Whistleblowers in Africa (PPLAAF) will provide guidance from legal experts, secure submission of information and a hotline for potential informants, according to its founders.
The initiative is the brainchild of Spanish superstar lawyer Baltasar Garzon -- who has defended Julian Assange of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks -- along with French lawyer William Bourdon, who worked on the LuxLeaks case, and Senegalese human rights advocate Alioune Tine.
The trio said the organisation was hoping to give African citizens -- who are better informed than ever about what their leaders are up to, thanks to the internet -- to report corruption and rights abuses.
"We have decided to protect (whistleblowers) here in Africa, the continent where they are least protected and take greater risks," said Bourdon, the organisation's president.
Tine, who heads Amnesty International's West and Central Africa operations, said whistleblowers risk "prison, even death" to protect the public good on the continent, describing them as "modern-day heroes".
The new organisation cited the cases of Ethiopian Abdullahi Hussein, who exposed atrocities committed by the military, and Jean-Jacques Lumumba, a Congolese banker who revealed his employer was hiding transactions of stolen government funds, as inspirations.
Both men faced death threats and intimidation, and Hussein was forced to seek asylum in Sweden after fleeing with footage of killings and rapes in Ethiopia's Ogaden region.
The organisation's researchers say just seven African countries have laws to protect whistleblowers, while senior government officials frequently make the headlines by siphoning off funds for personal gain.